Every kid who graduates from the eighth grade thinks that they're completely prepared for their high school experience. They're so used to being the big kids at middle school that they run head on into high school, seemingly ready for anything. Most run face first into the wall that is high school, and thus, the majority of their teenage life.

Although most people are already 14 or 15 their freshman year, this is where the true trial begins. Getting lost in the hallways, nose in the schedule before an upperclassman knocks you to the side; this is every freshman's nightmare come true. If you're lucky enough, you'll find a junior or senior who will show you the ropes. However, most juniors are so loaded with their classwork (and too prepared to use the hierarchal power they've finally earned), and seniors too busy with getting ready to leave, that most freshman are left to their own devices. For the first time, you have homework other than worksheets, lectures to take notes on, Shakespeare to read. It's not like everything suddenly hits critical mass, however. You can still get away with sleeping in class if you're good at copying. You never seem to get along with your teachers anyway; this is because your typical freshman is the bouncing ball of energy without a clue to the beginning of social etiquette.

And then the summer comes, those blessed three months of freedom here at last. If you're lucky, you made it through; maybe with a few extra scars, visible or not, but you made it. If you didn't, you're stuck taking classes with freshmen that will annoy you as much as you annoyed everybody else.

Then sophomore year comes. The words that best describe this year are "low profile." Low profile classes, low profile importance, low profile existence. You don't know this right away, though. At first you'll think you're all big and bad because you're not a freshman anymore. This period of time never lasts long; once you get knocked down a few times, you seem to get the "low profile" message. Classes get harder, but not by much. The main change this year brings is not about your classes, but rather yourself. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, it's as if somebody turned down your volume dial and gave you only one battery to run off of instead of five. This is a good thing. As people slowly begin to be able to stand your presence more and more, you develop social skills. Your emotions deepen, just enough so to create a load of drama, usually caused and carried on through sites such as Xanga and Myspace. You'll make friends, lose friends, but that's a part of life. That's the thing; you begin to learn the ways of life.

After that summer, in which you'll most likely partake in an array of illegal activities and even more likely get caught for over half of them, you begin your junior year. This is the epitome of all high school years. First and foremost, it is the most difficult academic year you will have in high school. If you're in classes geared for those prepared to trek the college path, expect to be busting your brain cells by the third day. It doesn't just end there, however. You will have the SATs or ACTs to take, in which you will either prove yourself far smarter or quite the opposite than what you thought you were, and no matter what you get, they will probably end up being on the lower scale of what the college you want to go to is accepting. College is another big part of your junior year. This is the point in which you will begin some serious soul searching and decide what you want to be. Once you do that, you will begin going to several college related sites and start looking for colleges which support the major you're looking for. This is a process which will need to be repeated several times, as through the course of your junior year, you will find yourself changing your mind time and time again on what you want to be. You'll print college profiles, study them carefully, and then procrastinate for ridiculous amounts of time until the deadline has passed, which will induce a long and loud argument between you and your parents about your irresponsibility. What they don't realize is that you're too busy making life hard for freshmen, doing six hours of homework a night at least, and taking an absurd amount of notes for each class. You will notice several major changes throughout this year, however. Your teachers, who hated you last year because you were under the impression that you big and bad and went through a fatuous stage of rebellion, will actually begin to like you. You will find yourself staying after class or pausing in the halls for a few moments to discuss the underlying meaning in the literature you are reading, or to ponder upon a calculus rule which makes very little sense and yet all the sense in the world at the exact same time.

This is the major point in your high school life, mostly because you begin to accept the ways of life that you learned last year. You begin to learn the art of going with the flow, taking things as they come, and accepting failure while striving for excellence at the same time. Your motivation skyrockets; you feel as if you are prepared to take on the world. That is, until you get home with a 50 pound backpack and eight hours of homework ahead of you. Or until finals come. At this point, you will suffer a series of nervous breakdowns, drink copious amounts of coffee from the hours of 3 p.m. to around the hour of 3 a.m., at which point you accept that you will never pass the final and collapse into bed, experiencing a string of nightmares which will include you failing several times over, being accused of cheating on your finals, and showing up to school naked. Upon the completion of your finals and the receiving of the information that you actually did a very respectable job on the finals, you begin what is likely to be the best summer of your life, riddled with work hours, road trips with friends, and jumps off the second floor deck into the pool.

Then comes senior year. At this point, all of the motivation that you had last year will leave you as you begin to suffer the well known illness called "senioritis." You will slack off, procrastinate as much as possible, and enter a state of lethargy in which you don't even exit when work time comes. You will become a taxi service for all the freshman and sophomore friends that you made, though you won't mind it too much until you're spending over half of your paycheck on gas bills. You will pick a succession of simple classes, the kind of enjoyable classes that you've been waiting all school year to be able to take but couldn't because you were too busy taking calculus. You will finally get those applications in, though not without another group of loud arguments with your parents in which you proclaim that you are an adult, you can handle it, when really, you were planning on putting it off until the last minute because you are drowning in your own senioritis. When the end of the school year arrives, you will put 1000 marbles in each fifth locker, superglue the chairs to the tops of the desks, and set loose three cows, each marked with a respective number 1, 2, and 4.

And then the summer ends, and you and your friends go your own separate ways. The sad truth makes itself apparent, despite how much you've tried to deny it; that it is likely that you and the friends that you have become so close to over the years will never see each other again. But you will never forget them, and the times you had, both good and bad. Looking upon it, you'll finally realize something; that you were never really prepared for the things you would face in high school, and are probably less prepared than you think for the challenges that lie ahead.